the past: great risks led to great rewards. today, we take no risks. should we get any rewards?

Recently, the mask ban has been lifted in California for vaccinated people – yet still wherever you go and whoever you see – there is still a sizeable population still wearing masks. In addition, I still see a lot of people wearing masks where they don’t need to (inside stores and restaurants), walking out alone, and driving alone in their cars.

Now, no matter your stance on COVID and the vaccine, if you follow the guidance, you would mask up when the state told you to mask up and take off the mask when you are told that you no longer need to wear one.

By all accounts, most Californians who live in major centers are vaccinated. Especially, you’d think in Silicon Valley, where I live, you’d see all sorts of risk-takers and innovators. As possible, you’d think that as possible the most innovative place on earth, this would be the first place everyone would cast off their masks and take the risk.

But no. Most people are still masked, and most say that they will stay masked. No matter what you believe, this is a huge indicator of what ails Silicon Valley (and most of the rest of the United States, come to think of it). We’ve gotten so afraid of taking risks that we don’t take them anymore.

Where is innovation if you don’t take risks? There is no innovation without risk.

If you think about it – not only is innovation risky – LIFE ITSELF is risky. What kind of people have we become if we are not willing to take even the smallest risk?

Innovation is risky. Change is risky. Life is risky. How do we expect to “dent the universe” (per Steve Jobs) when we are afraid to breathe in fresh air without a face covering – even when we don’t need to? I ask you, if not now – when the science says that you can – when will we cast off our “fear masks”? If we wait until there are no longer any risks in life, we will wait forever.

No, we need to embrace life, embrace change, embrace risk. The human race cannot progress without risk.

  • Do you think we’d be able to fly around the globe today if the Wright Brothers never risked trying to fly?
  • Do you think we’d be sitting in the dark without Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb?
  • Do you think we’d be able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels without Elon Musk?

Human beings have to live with risk every day of their lives. There will always be risks, in everything we do, from crossing the street to developing that new-to-the-world product or service which makes your customers happy is a risk – and we need to be able to stand up to the risks and take them when we need to.

If we don’t, we don’t progress. We don’t solve the problems of the world. Everything stagnates.

If great rewards require great risk, then what does that say about people who take no risks? If Silicon Valley wants to start to get its mojo back – and anywhere else in the world for that matter – we need to take risks.


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